Day of the Dead Prints” inspired by Jose Posada

We had a blast at my Teach Kids Art: “Day of the Dead” work­shop yes­ter­day!  I added a new project this year, “Day of the Dead Prints” — inspired by Jose Posada.  Jose Posada (1852–1913) was a pro­lific Mex­i­can folk artist and polit­i­cal satirist from Aguas­cal­lientes in cen­tral Mex­ico.  Posada began learn­ing lith­o­g­ra­phy (a form of print­mak­ing using a metal plate) at age 16.  Although he cre­ated over 20,000 engrav­ings, he was mostly unrec­og­nized as an artist dur­ing his life­time.  How­ever, his art influ­enced the work of other Mex­i­can artists like Jose Orozco and Diego Rivera, who later ded­i­cated a mural to his mem­ory.  Posada is best known for his calav­eras (skull designs), espe­cially his “La Cat­rina” engrav­ings.  We used “Scratch Foam” in this les­son to achieve high con­trast, black and white prints inspired by Jose Posada.
“La Cat­rina” by Jose Posada

  • 9x12 white con­struc­tion paper, cut into quar­ters (one quar­ter per stu­dent), and also cut to 6x7½ for each print


  • 9x12 Scratch Foam, cut into quar­ters (one quar­ter per student)
  • mask­ing tape
  • pen­cil and eraser
  • Black tem­pera paint
  • Dish soap — just a few drops, if needed
  • Paper plate for a palette
  • Foam brush



  1. Look at the work of Jose Posada for inspi­ra­tion, then sketch a design onto your quar­ter sheet of white con­struc­tion paper.  If you include any words in your design, you’ll need to write them in reverse!


  • Tape your paper to your Scratch Foam to hold it in place.
  • With a dull pen­cil, trace over your design onto the Scratch Foam, press­ing hard enough to leave an impres­sion, but not so hard that your pen­cil tears the paper. 
  • Remove the paper and go over your lines with a dull pen­cil, press­ing hard, but being care­ful to not go all the way through the Scratch Foam.  Add addi­tional details if you want…. the more details, the better!
  • Make a “han­dle” on the back of your Scratch Foam with mask­ing tape.
  • Pour some black paint onto a paper plate.  
  • While hold­ing the tape han­dle, paint your Scratch Foam with the black paint.  (If the paint “crawls” when you apply it to the foam, you can add a drop or two of dish soap to the paint to help it stick.
  • Cen­ter your Scratch Foam over the paper you want to print on.  Press down and rub well with your fingers.
  • Care­fully lift the Scratch Foam off your paper and set your print aside to dry.  Rinse off your scratch foam when you are fin­ished mak­ing prints.  (If you han­dle it care­fully, your Scratch Foam design will last over many printings!)
  • If you want to add color after your print dries, you can use col­ored pen­cils, or dec­o­rate it with touches of col­or­ful glit­ter glue.  Or, before print­ing your design, try col­or­ing the paper ran­domly with mark­ers (use bright col­ors — no black), then print over the top with black paint.  You can also print onto col­ored paper or use col­ored paint to print onto white paper.  Use this process to make fram­able prints, greet­ing cards, tags for gifts, gift wrap and more…. the pos­si­bil­i­ties are endless!



Here are a few pics from yesterday’s work­shop… great job, everyone!

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9 Responses to Day of the Dead Prints” inspired by Jose Posada

  1. Hope Hunter Knight September 26, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    love these! nice work.

  2. Dana aka Smiley88 September 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Love it! Those turned out great!

  3. HipMomma October 12, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    Love these! So gotta try this with my girls soon.

  4. liz October 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    thanks for the project, great detailed instructions!

  5. laura October 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Love this! but what is scratch foam? and where do I get it? Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. TeachKidsArt October 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    Laura, I added links for the Scratch Foam… you can find it at most any art store, and prob­a­bly on ama­zon, too. It’s just a very thin, flex­i­ble sheet of foam. You can also use the flat part of a sty­ro­foam plate. It’s great for kids because they don’t have to use sharp tools to carve it!

  7. Kid World Citizen December 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    This is awe­some!!!! We did some­thing sim­i­lar with the sty­ro­foam you get on the bot­tom of pack­aged meat (gross, but we dis­in­fected it) and then the lit­tle kids used just a pen­cil to etch their cre­ations. If you ever are inter­ested in guest-writing on another edu­ca­tional web site (kid­world­c­i­t­i­zen (dot) org) please, please con­tact me! I love your ideas:). I am at kid­world­c­i­t­i­zen (at) gmail (dot) com.

  8. Clau October 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    I loved the project, thanks for shar­ing.
    Just one cor­rec­tion. The artist’s name is Guadalupe Posadas ;)

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